Johnson City, Tenn. (WJHL)- Following Monday night’s leaked draft to overturn Roe v. Wade, protests and rallies have erupted throughout the country.
If finalized the decision would jeopardize the right to legally perform an abortion at the federal level and put that power in the hands of the states.
About a hundred people gathered in Founders Park in Johnson City before lining State of Franklin Road in support of women’s rights.
“I felt the same way I did when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away. I felt this dread, this knowing of what was going to happen, what was going to come,” said Kate Craig, the co-chair of Women’s March Tri-Cities and organizer of Tuesday’s rally. “People die who have uteruses that need and get abortions. Banning abortions doesn’t change the number of abortions people get. They just go and happen in unsafe manners and so I’m for safe, legal abortions.”
She’s running as a Democrat in hopes to replace Rusty Crowe for the 3rd District Tennessee State Senate seat.
“With the trigger bill, lawmakers have already told us what they think, that they don’t think that they should be safe, that they don’t think this should be legal, and that women should be at risk – that’s what they told us,” Craig said. “I want to protect life just as much as they do. I just want to go about it the smart, right, safe way.”
Tennessee has passed legislation to ban abortion unless it’s done to prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function.”
“In 2019, Tennessee passed the Human Life Protection Act preparing for a moment like this so that Tennessee law would ban abortion except for rape, incest, or life of the mother within 30 days of a Supreme Court decision like this,” said State Rep. Scotty Campbell (R-Mountain City). “Millions of lives are in the balance and not everyone subscribes to that view or belief, but that’s mine and I share that with many, many people across the state. And this is something that’s been prepared for in many ways.”
Those at Tuesday’s rally say an abortion ban could put more lives at risk.
“I do think that it can end more lives than save. It’s only going to end safe abortions. You can never end abortion,” said Johanna Sorah, a Johnson City resident.
Johnson City Medical Student, Alex Crockett, agrees.
“I’m afraid my patients will die. Plain and simple,” he said. “Patients need this care at some point in their life, and I’m afraid that we’re not going to be able to give it when we can save someone’s life.”
“The best way to save lives is to be able to offer the broad spectrum of healthcare that is necessary, and like it or not abortion is healthcare,” said another organizer, Rachel Taylor-Lee. “It’s frightening, especially with some of the limitations they were already speaking of with the heartbeat bill. A lot of women don’t even know they’re pregnant prior to six, eight, twelve weeks because they may have irregular cycles or different things, so removing that opportunity is just putting a lot of lives at risk.”
Taylor-Lee also says it comes down to women having control over decisions regarding their bodies.
“As a mother of three girls, I’m just kind of shocked that there’s a chance that my children could lose in the future the choice to make choices about their own bodies about what could happen,” she said. “This could potentially put their lives at risk if they were to God forbid have an unplanned pregnancy.”
Ray Dillon from Erwin echoed that sentiment.
“This is something that’s shared by humanity. It’s not women, it’s not men. Everybody shares this,” he said. “We can’t tolerate this kind of authoritarianism, this rule that’s applied to us. It’s harsh, it’s very harsh.”
Some people at the rally are also hoping lawmakers will take a look at other issues.
“If abortion is really the issue, if you really want to save lives, let’s talk about the foster care system. Let’s talk about the adoption system. It doesn’t stop after a child is born,” said Alex Crutcher from Johnson City. “It’s healthcare after the child is born, it’s education, it’s all of it all the way through their entire life. It’s not just while they’re in the womb. A person is a person its whole life.”
News Channel 11 reached out to other local lawmakers about the leaked document. Many said it was too early to respond and some have yet to respond to requests.